AD380: Approval rating for government anti-graft efforts drops after strong gains in 2017

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Dispatches
2020
380
Raphael Mbaegbu and Chukwudebe Nwanze

Since assuming office in May 2015, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has taken several measures to curb corruption. These include the establishment of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), prosecution of high-profile corruption cases, suspension of top government officials alleged to be involved in corrupt practices, adoption of a whistleblower protection policy, and enhanced capacity building programs for officers of anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

These efforts have chalked up some successes, including the recovery of about N71.7 billion ($184 million) by the federal government since the whistleblower policy was inaugurated in December 2016 (Daily Times, 2017). Even so, critics express distrust in the government’s anti-corruption campaign, voicing concerns about possible abuse of the whistleblower policy, institutional weaknesses, and perceived discrimination and lack of transparency in the management and distribution of COVID-19 funds and palliatives (Action Aid, 2020; Vanguard, 2020). Some highly placed law enforcement agents have been accused of routinely converting funds recovered from corruption cases for their personal use; the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was recently suspended based on such an allegation (Africa Report, 2020). A study has found that some “structural and facility-level corruption and accountability issues” hinder health workers’ efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic (Conversation, 2020).

Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey, conducted in early 2020, show that a majority of Nigerians perceive an increase in the level of corruption in the country, and the approval rating for the government’s performance in fighting corruption has declined sharply. Large majorities of citizens endorse the media’s watchdog role over government but do not feel safe reporting corrupt acts themselves.

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